Category Archives: Video Games

MechWarrior Online World Champs First Round Recap

courtesy of mechwarrior.com

The weekend has come and gone, and that means we’ve had our first round of matches for the MechWarrior Online World Championships. There’ve already been a few teams eliminated from this double-elimination tournament, with other teams proving their mettle against a field of truly awesome contenders. Let’s take a look at the standings after a weekend of ‘Mech action.

Our first match actually took place September 17th between Russian Jade Falcon/Spikes and 228th Wild Ones due to a bit of a scheduling hiccup, but there were certainly no hiccups in the match. The Wild Ones managed to take an early lead in the best of three games, taking out 2 RJFS ‘Mechs which allowed them to wrap-up the rest of the match easily. However, RJFS rallied and took the remaining two games in a brutal display of gunnery, eliminating the majority of The Wild Ones’ machines and giving them the victory.

Our next match took place last Thursday between the North American 228th Black Watch versus the Steel Jaguars, with Black Watch taking the meeting 2 games to nothing. The Steel Jaguars seemed entirely outclassed in both games, allowing Black Watch to easily move on to the winner’s brackets.

D5 vs OZ

via Piranha Games on Twitch

Last Saturday brought several games to Twitch, starting with Dropship 5 against Osiriz. This match went to its full three games with the first round a brutal battle of attrition. PPCs and laser fire lit up the map as each side traded long distance fire. Ultimately Osiriz managed to take the first game, but just barely, with the second game going to Dropship 5 by an equally slim margin on resource points. In the final round Dropship 5 once again tried to go for a resource win but fell prey to some clever maneuvering from Osiriz that managed to split the Dropship 5 forces and gang up on half of them before the other half could respond, giving Osiriz the victory.

Next we have White Death Mercenary Company against the Phoenix Legion which immediately devolved into an insane brawl on HPG Manifold. Lasers, missiles, and autocannons lit up outer space as each team ran into close quarters combat. Air strikes from both teams continually pounded the melee, getting friendly and enemy kills alike, but the Phoenix Legion strikes proved to be better aimed as they swung the first game from a 6v4 to a 3v4 in one swoop of an Aerospace fighter‘s tail. The Legion also took the second game as well, but it may have been a pyrrhic victory as this put the Legion against last year’s Champions for their next round: EmpyreaL.

RJFS vs EON Synergy

via Piranha Games on Twitch

Next, we have last year’s European Champions EON Synergy against RJFS for their second round of fights and the second round of matches for the tournament overall. The Russian Jade Falcons managed to take the first game quite soundly, but EON came back strong in the final two fights giving RJFS their first loss of the tournament. One more loss and RJFS will be heading home empty-handed at this year’s World Championships.

The Black Watch continued their winning streak in their next game against The First Jaguar Guards but not before having a trio of prolonged fights against the Jaguars. The Canyon battleground was once again covered in laser and PPC fire as both teams fielded two lances of Supernovas, Night Gyrs, and Hunchback IICs, so no argument could be made that either side had a technological advantage. The superior piloting of the Black Watch pilots proved telling, allowing them to emerge victorious after three games.

Oz vs TCAF

via Piranha Games on Twitch

Just yesterday gave us our first match featuring the Tikonov Commonality Armed Forces against Osiriz for their second match of the tournament. At first it seemed TCAF may be able to take the first match, but Osiriz cleverly managed to capture enough resource points so that TCAF was not able to respond in time to prevent a victory. Osiriz also took the second game after several ferocious exchanges of fire, with not a single ‘Mech stumbling from the battlefield without critical damage. Osiriz continues their streak without a single loss.

Emp Vs PHL

via Piranha Games on Twitch

Last year’s World Champs, EmpyreaL, had their first match of the tournament against the loveable underdogs, Phoenix Legion. Phoenix Legion came out swinging, but the tournament veterans played the long game by reserving enough armor to take them into the later stages of the game while Phoenix Legion lost too much stamina to continue. The second match was much slower than the first as both teams went for a capture strategy, but unfortunately Phoenix Legion fell prey to a surprise push by EmpyreaL as they brought their heavy and assault ‘Mechs to the center of the map in a risky move that caught out several lighter Legion machines. After securing an easy three kills EmpyreaL went on to take the win.

Our next game has Dropship 5 fighting for survival against the First Jaguar Guards. Dropship 5 managed to barely hold on to victory in the first game, but couldn’t maintain their grip to win the final two games as the Jaguar Guards rallied and took two decisive victories. This means Dropship 5 is eliminated from the tournament – a surprise ending for the current MRBC North American Division A champions.

RJFS vs WDMC

via Piranha Games on Twitch

Another team on the chopping block is White Death Mercenary Company as they competed against Russian Jade Falcons/Spikes on Sunday night. White Death seemed somewhat uncoordinated in their first game, losing a ‘Mech to a friendly fire incident. Their second game didn’t go any better, losing their entire team while RJFS lost but a single pilot. White Death Mercenary Company goes home empty-handed after their pair of losses in the tournament.

Our last pair of matches only contained losing teams, making them do or die for both combatants. The Wild Ones were looking to redeem themselves against the Phoenix Legion, and they did by taking the match two games to zero. Phoenix Legion employed some interesting strategy that flirted with brilliance at times, and perhaps with some refinement on the off-season, they’ll be able to return next year to make a more successful World Championship run. Kudos to you, Phoenix Legion, and here’s to next year.

PHL vs Wild Ones

via Piranha Games on Twitch

The last match of the weekend pits Steel Jaguars against the Tikonov Commonality Armed Forces. TCAF seemed very timid in their first match, taking air strikes and long-range fire without responding, ultimately handing the Steel Jaguars victory. The second round on HPG Manifold started in a much better position for TCAF, even taking an early kill on a Jaguar Supernova, but then the Jaguars managed to maneuver behind TCAF and start eating into their delicate back armor. After several kills, TCAF’s forces completely fell apart, allowing the Steel Jaguars to move on to the next round.

BanditB17 and mdmzero

via Piranha Games on Twitch

Thus we head into the next round with 10 teams remaining and two matches of undefeated teams that could be a preview of what we’ll find in the final round. The Black Watch and Eon Synergy will compete in a battle of European and North American juggernauts, while EmpyreaL and Osiriz will face off in a match that will end one team’s undefeated streak. Osiriz seems to be the team to watch as they have emerged from the starting round with several commanding wins already under their belt, while EmpyreaL seemed slightly sluggish in their first round against Phoenix Legion.

Meanwhile, it will be another fight for survival in the opposite brackets, as Steel Jaguars face The Wild Ones and RJFS face the First Jaguar Guards. These veteran teams are sure to put on an incredible performance to maintain their place in the World Championship.

Stay Tuned to Piranha Games’ Twitch channel for more ‘Mech action as the games resume next Friday night.

New Details Emerge For MechWarrior 5

New Details Emerge For MechWarrior 5

courtesy of mw5mercs.com

As Mech_Con once again fast approaches, we’re being teased with more details on the upcoming single-player BattleTech simulator, MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. Just this month, PC Gamer revealed they will be running a feature article in their November issue which provides us with tantalizing info on what to expect in the first new single-player MechWarrior in over a decade.

We know from a PC Gamer article earlier this year that MechWarrior 5 will take place in the classic era of BattleTech, between the years 3015 and 3049, and much like its spiritual predecessor MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, you’ll start with a single beat-up light ‘Mech and work your way up to becoming a full lance of the biggest and toughest ‘Mechs the Inner Sphere has to offer.

What the upcoming PC Gamer issue reveals is that unlike previous MechWarrior titles, this one won’t allow nearly as much customization as previous entries in the series. Gone are the days when you can buy any old ‘Mech and turn it into a one-man army with some Endo Steel and XL Engine upgrades, as many aspects of a ‘Mech’s anatomy will be fixed to the chassis. Instead, prospective buyers will have to scour the constantly changing market to find a ‘Mech with the specific features they want, and then tweak the existing weaponry to get it just how they like it.

Shadowhawk

courtesy of mw5mercs.com

While ‘Mechs themselves won’t have nearly as much customization when it comes to their weapons loadout, the weapons themselves will have slight variations for pilots to play with. Each weapon system will have multiple manufacturers with each manufacturer giving slightly different performance. One AC/5 might have a bit more power, but another manufacturer’s AC/5 might reload a second faster, and so on. It’s not what we’re used to, but it does seem to fit more with the lore than the anything-goes customization of games gone past.

Everything about MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries will be dynamic: missions will be dynamically created, terrain will be randomly generated, and armor and structure will have multiple stages of destruction (rather than going from “chipped paint” to “on fire” all at once). Perhaps best of all, the entire environment will be destructible, so if you want to walk your 55-ton engine of death through a building to surprise the tank platoon on the other side you can do that too.

Finally, we’ve got two new ‘Mechs to add to the known list of machines included in the game. The Shadow Hawk and Raven were revealed last year with their pre-alpha footage, and now we know the Jagermech and Atlas will also make an appearance.

The PC Gamer article goes into way more detail, as well as providing a first-hand account of the author’s time with the playable alpha, so I encourage you all to pick up a copy of the November issue when it releases. Or you can get a digital copy here.

MechWarrior Online World Championship Tournament Finals Have Begun!

courtesy of mechwarrior.com

The MechWarrior Online World Championship semifinals have begun! The qualifiers ended as of September 16th, and the top 12 teams in the world have officially been chosen to represent the best that MechWarrior Online has to offer for the World Championship. It was a grueling few months of near-constant ‘Mech combat, but after months of trials, the 12 teams have taken their place in the tournament’s double-elimination seeded brackets.

First, a brief explanation of the tournament structure as things are a bit different from last year. Rather than have a separate tournament for each region and then having the top team from each region go to the Finals in Vancouver, this year there are no regions and only the top 12 teams from around the world are invited to take part in the tournament. While this does mean that there are certainly more North American and European teams in the top 12 than Oceanic teams, it also means that those teams are on a much more similar skill level, which will hopefully produce some fantastic fights.

2016 World Champs

via mechwarrior.com

Also, rather than a large round-robin phase, the tournament has been simplified to be a seeded double-elimination structure. The top 4 teams will get a pass on the first round of fighting, and then it becomes a simple matter of losing twice and you’re out. This naturally means that the top 4 teams have a slight advantage as they have to play fewer games than everyone else, but it’s far from insurmountable.

And now let’s take a look at our competitors. First, we have Russian Jade Falcon Spikes, which seem to be an amalgamation of the MRBC League’s Russian Jade Falcons and Black Spikes teams. Russian Jade Falcon was relegated into Division B during last season of the MRBC, but Black Spikes came in second place in Division A. Perhaps the best of the best from both teams will create a world champion.

 

Next up we have two teams from the massive MWO conglomerate 288th IBR, The Black Watch and The Wild Ones. The Black Watch finished third in the North American Division A standings with the MRBC, while The Wild Ones finished second in the Asia/Pacific Division A. Both are filled with veteran players that are sure to give any team they face a run for their money.

North America’s second place from Division A last season return to the World Championships, with the Steel Jaguars finding themselves opposite The Black Watch in their first match of the semifinals. The two teams faced off against each other twice in the previous season of the MRBC, with each team achieving a single victory. It’ll be interesting to see if any bad blood remains between the two North American juggernauts.

 

Dropship Five appears to have also made the semifinals, which comes as no surprise to competitive ‘MechWarrior fans. Dropship Five had an amazing performance in the MRBC’s season 9 and took top honors in North America. They’ll definitely be a team to watch as the tournament progresses.

The fourth team from North America Division A, and finishing fourth in season 9, is Osiriz. Their first year at the MRBC established themselves as a team not to be trifled with, and their appearance at the World Championships cements their reputation. Osiriz will face Dropship Five in their first tournament match, and once again both teams have an even record against each other. Who will emerge the victor in their third face-off is anybody’s guess.

  Osiriz  

Our second purely European team to make it to the World Championships is The White Death Mercenary Company. They had a fantastic 9th season with the MRBC, finishing third overall in Division A. A strong team with an even stronger history will surely go far in the this year’s tournament.

We have a pretty amazing upset for our next team to reach the World Championships; Division B Stalwarts Phoenix Legion have achieved enough victories in the qualifying rounds to secure a spot in this year’s tournament. The only Division B team to make it to the semifinals, one simply can’t help but root for the underdogs. Let’s hope they continue to impress.

  Phoenix Legion

The next team to make the Worlds is The First Jaguar Guards, our second Asia/Pacific team to prove themselves worthy. The First Jaguar Guards did not take part in season nine of the MRBC and, judging by a quick Google search, that could be owing to some internal drama within the team. However, they placed first in the A/P region the three previous consecutive years, so this is definitely a team not to be taken lightly. Let’s hope that whatever internal strife that was present is long over and the team is ready to focus on their tournament run.

Europe’s dominant force, Eon Synergy, has once again come to the World Championship, and this time they’re hoping to bring home the crown. They had a commanding performance in the European rankings with the MRBC, only losing nine of their fifty total games. They lost to last year’s champions, Empyreal, in the final round of the tournament, and I’m sure they’re gunning for the top spot this year.

  TCAF

Europe’s fourth-place team in season 9 with the MRBC, the Tikonov Commonality Armed Forces, have also found their way to the World Championships, and they’ve achieved enough victories in the qualifying rounds to be placed in the top 4, giving them a by in the first round of matches. That’s quite the turnaround for a team that had a losing record in the previous MRBC season. Let’s see if they can keep that momentum going as we head into the semifinals.

And finally, last year’s world champions have returned to defend their crown: Empyreal. This team was an unstoppable force in the previous tournament, but a year has gone by, and while most of the teams heading to the World Championships have been practicing constantly, Empyreal did not take part in season nine with the MRBC. Will their lack of tournament exposure dull their skills, or will they once again stomp every team put before them?

  Empyreal


This year’s World Championships is shaping up to be the most exciting MechWarrior Online competitive tournament to date. We’ve already had one match played between Russian Jade Falcons Spike and The Wild Ones, with RJFS emerging victorious after three extremely tough fights. If this game is any indication, this will certainly be a World Championships for the record books.

The schedule of games can be found on the World Championship website here, however the exact dates are a little up in the air right now due to some scheduling issues between the teams. We should have a clarification on the dates shortly, so keep your eyes peeled for when next to tune in to the Piranha Games Twitch channel for more giant robot action.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

BATTLETECH Backer Beta – Second Impressions

BATTLETECH

It’s been a few months since our first look at Harebrained Schemes upcoming BATTLETECH turn-based RPG, and I thought it a good idea to see how things are progressing. As reported last month there are lots of changes made to the game since its initial release in June, and while the original beta version had just as much giant stompy robot action as one could have hoped, it was still certainly a rough first draft. Let’s take a look to see how the second draft has shaped up.

As you may recall from my initial foray into BATTLETECH the AI handed me my metallic ass on a silver platter, forcing me to tip the scales in my favor with a massive weight advantage. I remembered too, so my first game did exactly the same thing, pitting my Centurion, Kintaro, Griffin, and Victor against an enemy lance consisting of a Jenner, Locust, Centurion, and a Commando.

From my first game, I’d come to appreciate the Centurion as a tough, workhorse medium ‘Mech, able to dish out as much punishment as it can take in return. The Kintaro, Griffin, and Victor were new designs (in terms of never having used them before) but seemed to make a good mix of long and short range firepower. My enemy would be highly mobile but vastly outgunned, and I hoped to use that to my advantage by simply barreling up to my foe and alpha-striking until they all dropped dead.

Nobody ever said I was a subtle tactician.

Game 1 - 1

Going into the match I remembered there were a lot of changes between the September version and June version of the game. To start, all MechWarriors now have two abilities to contend with rather than the original one. There would also be an increase in frequency and severity of critical hits, something that might drastically affect lighter ‘Mechs without nearly as much armor as my heavier units.

I was very right on that point.

My lance ambled up to the river and made a firing line while the enemy AI ran towards me at full speed. The Locust appeared first, firing its SRMs and medium laser into my Kintaro, which shrugged off the damage. I would continue to be impressed by the Kintaro’s toughness throughout the fight.

Of course, having run head-long into a firing line of 240 tons of guns and armor, the poor Locust did not survive the return salvo from my lance. One down, three to go.

Gif game 1 - 1

The enemy lance continued to approach, but still in a piecemeal fashion. Next up was the Jenner who, while tougher than the Locust, suffered grievous rents in its armor from a full blast of my Centurion’s weaponry. My Victor, which had been hiding in the forest that lined the ravine, then pounced on the poor Jenner, sealing its fate.

Compared with June, I noticed that the light ‘Mechs went down significantly easier than before. Three crits to the center torso are enough to destroy the engine, and it was knocking out lighter machines much faster than the heavier ones. Whether or not this will remain in the final product is yet to be seen, but for now I’d certainly recommend more heavily armored light ‘Mechs for survivability.

This left a Commando and a Centurion to contend with. The Commando took a full barrage from my Griffin as it peaked over a hillside, crippling it. It then suicide-charged into my Kintaro, who greeted it with a full fusillade of 18 SRMs. He never stood a chance.

Game 1 - 2

With my full lance encroaching on his position, the remaining enemy Centurion attempted to flee. The combined long-range firepower of my Griffin and Centurion managed to tag it before it could get too far away, and my Victor stepped behind it to wrench off the ‘Mech’s AC/10 with a few well-placed shots. My Kintaro then provided the coup de grâce.

Along with the ease by which lighter ‘Mechs succumbed to fire, I also noticed that the enemy AI seemed much easier than back in June. Also, the heat effects around a ‘Mech were much more noticeable, with an overheating ‘Mech glowing orange and a simmering machine displaying a hypnotic mirage as it dissipated its head load.

Gif game 1 - 2

Now that I’d been convinced I wasn’t about to get my ass kicked by a bunch of silicon, I decided a fair fight was in order. I queued up another game with both of us in roughly equivalent machines. My paired Centurions, a Panther, and Commando versus their Locust, Commando, Vindicator and Shadow Hawk. I hoped my Centurions would be able to tough out the worst of the damage thrown my way.

This time the two lances danced around each other for some time exchanging LRM fire, before a lucky shot from the opposing Shadow Hawk’s AC/5 blew out my Commando’s center torso. Horrible visions of my previous defeat danced through my head, and I desperately pivoted my remaining ‘Mechs away from the deadly Shadow Hawk.

Gif game 2 - 1

Lucky for me the enemy pursued with their lighter elements leading the charge, which allowed me to pivot back and pummel both the Commando and Locust into scrap with minimal damage to my own forces.

Thus began a long exchange of ranged fire as our lances faced off over a large gorge. My first Centurion was crippled, then killed by combined autocannon and PPC fire, but my brief ‘Mech advantage proved telling. The enemy Vindicator lost its PPC, and my own Panther’s PPC took the Shadow Hawk’s right arm off.

Game 2 - 1

To finally end the battle I decided to use the replacement to the morale mechanic called “focus”. I’m still not 100% sure how it works, but it seems to allow surviving, toughened MechWarriors to fire a hyper-accurate shot. I told my Centurion to focus and fire all remaining weapons, which finally took the Shadow Hawk down.

Gif game 2 - 2

The crippled Vindicator was easy prey for my Panther, who managed to perform a Death From Above maneuver successfully to further damage the already defeated machine. Risking overheat, I ordered my Centurion to alpha strike again and finally put the Vindicator down.

Obviously, given my stunning come-from-behind victory, the enemy AI in this game has been heavily tweaked since June. The survey that popped up following the match confirmed this by asking questions about enemy ‘Mech performance. I naturally answered the AI was perfect, since I’d just won, but at no point did I feel like I was facing a complete pushover. Only when I vastly outweighed my opponent did I feel like I was invincible, which is probably the way it should be.

Game 2 - 2

I had intended to make my third game a review of the nascent multiplayer experience, but unfortunately, the servers were down when I clicked it. So if you’d like to be featured on the next BATTLETECH Backer Beta, let me know in the comments and we’ll see if we can arrange a game!

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

BattleTech Multiplayer Beta Is Coming, Final Release Pushed To 2018

beta_update

courtesy of Harebrained Schemes

The BattleTech Single Player Beta is in full swing, with Harebrained Schemes crunching numbers and parsing data like no other developer has done before! Actually, I’m sure lots of developers have done it before, but this developer is working on a BattleTech game, so we’re giving them extra props.

It’s been nearly 2 months since the last Kickstarter Update after the release of the Single Player Beta, so that means it’s time for everyone to check in and see what’s happening next in terms of development. And what’s next is both exciting and a little bit disappointing, but mostly exciting. We’ll cover the exciting bits first.

As previously mentioned, HBS has been using feedback from the Single Player Beta to refine the player experience, and they’ve got a “significant” number of changes planned for the next update. Some of the weightier changes to be made include “major revisions” to the Evasion, Sensor Lock, and Evasive Move abilities, various balance tweaks to loads of weapon systems, a global heat reduction of 10%, and UI enhancements both in and out of combat.

That’s not all! There are quite a few other major changes on the way. The Morale mechanic is being completely replaced by a new system after survey feedback revealed that it unbalanced battles in favor of whichever side got the early kill, providing a snowball effect for that team. What the new system will be is anybody’s guess, but it was redesigned specifically to remove that snowball effect.

Critical Hit

courtesy of @kentnlsn on Twitter

Another major revision is the way critical hits work, becoming both being more frequent and more powerful. Only one lucky shot is required to set off a deadly ammo explosion from the previously required two, which means you should find ammo dependent ‘Mechs to be a little more vulnerable than before. Vital components, like weapons, actuators, and gyros will now take one shot to become damaged, and then become destroyed on the second crit.

Perhaps the most impactful revision is enhancements to enemy AI. Now instead of just being lumbering robots that move and shoot they’ll be lumbering robots that move, shoot, and use abilities. Also, all MechWarriors are getting a second ability, so this is sure to jack up the difficulty level to a place where I might feel inadequate, but I’m sure the rest of you will appreciate the challenge.

Finally, hot in from the BattleTech game forums comes Mitch with an update to the ‘Mech roster: the Firestarter is coming to BattleTech!  Get ready to light the world on fire with this highly flammable light ‘Mech. Fire retardant clothing is recommended.

Expect to see the Single Player Beta receive these updates by the end of the week.

Also coming up is a “Double-Secret” Multiplayer Beta Test, where the nascent multiplayer mode will be made available to eager beta testers who sign up for it. The Kickstarter Update did mention this is a very early test, which is why they’re not just rolling it out to everyone. Expect crashes and disconnects as they work out the bugs.

The Multiplayer Beta will be running for a few weeks while they work out the worst of the issues before rolling it out to the rest of the backers on a future update. Sign ups will be coming in a future Kickstarter update, so stay tuned there.

MechWarriors

courtesy of Harebrained Schemes

And finally a bit of a bad news to round out all the good. This one comes straight from Jordan himself to soften the blow somewhat; the release for BattleTech has been postponed to the early part of 2018.

As Jordan writes in his update, “The message we’ve received has been clear, ‘Don’t rush it, just make it great.’” Truer words were never spoken. I’d far rather receive a fantastic game a year late than receive a crappy game a few months early. Nobody wants to see BattleTech get the EA treatment of being rushed out the door just to meet some corporate bigwig’s deadline.  

Once again HBS has shown that the community is developing this game just as much as the coders are, and they’re both willing and eager to accept feedback to make the best game possible. While nobody wants to hear delays, the open communication is something both rare and essential when creating a game for a community as passionate as BattleTech’s.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

stay syrupy

Harmony Gold Is At It Again…

Yup. You read that right. Harmony Gold is at it again with another round of lawsuits aimed at BattleTech IP.

The story broke a few days ago (thanks to user Clanfighter for the comment tip!), and the Harebrained Schemes (HBS) and MechWarrior Online forums are ablaze. There’s a lot of vitriol being spewed (rightly) against Harmony Gold for being litigious parasites and trying to cash in on BattleTech‘s and MechWarrior Online’s success, and while that’s certainly true, there’s a little more to it than that.

First, let’s take a look at the actual lawsuit itself. Court documents filed last March by the law firm Calfo Eakes & Ostrovsky PLLC reveal that Harmony Gold is suing both Harebrained Schemes and PGI for copyright infringement on their Robotech imagery, which so far sounds just like what happened with the Unseen saga. That ended with Catalyst Game Labs releasing new artwork for the unseen ‘Mechs, and we all thought everything was done for good.

Harmony Gold apparently felt differently. The new suit names PGI as the primary defendants, saying the current models used for the Rifleman, Archer, Warhammer, Marauder and Phoenix Hawk are similar enough to the original Robotech images that they infringe the copyright. It also names HBS as another defendant saying that their use of the Atlas, Locust, and Shadowhawk are too similar to their property to be used in the upcoming BattleTech game.

Marauder PHawk

via unitedstatescourts.org

I took out some of the images filed in the court documents so we can take a look. For the complaint against PGI, you can maybe make an argument they’re similar but so similar they infringe? That’s harder to say. I’m no lawyer, but I do know that courts often look to specifics rather than general shapes when determining these kinds of cases, and you can easily spot dozens of differences between the two designs being compared.

Warhammer Archer

via unitedstatescourts.org

Rifleman

via unitedstatescourts.org

The pictures being used against HBS look even less alike. In fact, the whole argument seems spurious at best. An Atlas looks like a Crusader? A Shadowhawk looks like an Archer? A Locust looks like a Marauder? These ‘Mechs don’t even share the same silhouette, let alone any specific details. It’s like Harmony Gold is trying to say that nobody else can have giant robots since they have a passing resemblance to their giant robots.

Atlas Shadowhawk

via unitedstatescourts.org

Locust

via unitedstatescourts.org

The case against HBS is sure to be tossed as soon as it goes before a judge. The case for PGI might linger on, but I’m fairly confident that PGI has prepared for this day and has numerous counter arguments to keep their game safe.

The case against HBS is sure to be tossed as soon as it goes before a judge.

There were a few more interesting tidbits to be gleaned from the court docs. Apparently, PGI had been in contact with Harmony Gold in 2013 when they were planning on releasing the Warhammer and Marauder ‘Mechs in MechWarrior Online. Both times Harmony Gold said the submitted designs were too similar and infringed on their copyright. We don’t know what those earlier designs might have looked like, but you can see from the images above that the current models for the Warhammer and Marauder are very different from the original Robotech designs.

Also mentioned in the suit is how Harmony Gold “discovered” the infringing materials. Evidently, it was an old news post by Catalyst Game Labs on their partnership with PGI in creating some “lore vignettes” in 2016. The blog post featured a schematic image of the Warhammer, which was released in MechWarrior Online in January 2016. Both the Marauder and the Marauder IIC were released later in 2016.

Warhammer

via unitedstatescourts.org

It says something about how confident PGI is in their position that they still released both the Marauder and Warhammer despite having the court documents filed just before their release in MWO.

So why is Harmony Gold pursuing this case when they seem to have a very good chance of losing? Well, they could be hoping for a quick settlement with both PGI and HBS, however, given the strength of their defense, I doubt either would be inclined to let Harmony Gold win this time.

On the other hand, Harmony Gold has a very good reason to pursue this case as aggressively as they can. The Robotech live action movie is going full steam ahead, and there are probably plans to have both game and action figure tie-ins with the movie. Nevermind the fact the movie has no script, no cast, and has just recently changed directors to the same guy that did Stephen King’s It adaptation.

Harmony Gold could also be using this case as a means of testing the legal waters for a future lawsuit against MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries.

Harmony Gold could also be using this case as a means of testing the legal waters for a future lawsuit against MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries. We know that PGI’s upcoming single-player game will feature some of the Unseen designs, and if it’s as financially successful as it’s expected to be (and if the Robotech movie doesn’t crash and burn like every other live-action anime movie) then Harmony Gold could stand to make a bundle.

One thing for certain is that neither PGI nor HBS is likely to comment on the case anytime soon as the trial is set for September of 2018. Here’s hoping they lose, and badly.

New Tech in MechWarrior Online!

The latest patch for MechWarrior Online drops today, and while most patches are the usual crowd of minor tweaks and balance changes, today’s patch is a massive event that propels MWO into a new era in BattleTech.

Welcome to Civil War.

Or more accurately, welcome to the 3060s, where Inner Sphere technology finally catches up (kinda) with their Clan counterparts. Added to the game are all the best weaponry that BattleTech has ever had, including Rotary ACs, Heavy Gauss Rifles, and single shot Rocket Launchers. The Clans aren’t left out in this update either, as they receive Heavy Lasers, Advanced Tactical Missiles, and Micro Lasers.

More on the fancy new guns later. First, let’s dive into the patch notes and go over the latest event that brings us into the Civil War era.

Operation Bulldog… sort of

Operation Bulldog

courtesy of mwomercs.com

We begin with the latest addition to Faction Play, which despite the name of the patch being Civil War actually brings us back to the Invasion Era of 3057.

Called simply Season 1, the goal of the event is just like Operation Bulldog: the Inner Sphere factions have all come together to annihilate one of the clans. In gameplay terms, this means that if any Inner Sphere faction can take and hold a Clan Homeworld (Bearclaw, Strana Mechty, Huntress, or Ironhold), then the event ends and the Spheroids can claim victory.

Unlike the actual BattleTech lore, the Clans aren’t bound by the Tukayyid truce (or maybe they just ignore it – hard to say). For a Clan victory, they must reach and conquer any three Inner Sphere Capitals (Luthien, Tharkad, New Avalon, Sian, or Atreus). If they manage to do what no Clan has ever done, then victory for the Clans is declared and the event ends.

Operation Bulldog

via imgur

To conquer a Homeworld or Capital is no easy task. Either side must completely encircle the planet on the star map in order for the invasion to commence. Once it does, that capital/homeworld will become the sole point of contention for the entire Inner Sphere or Clan; everyone will pile in to either attack or defend the planet. If the defense is successful, then that planet cannot be targeted for invasion for the rest of the season.

Naturally, this event is weighted to give the Inner Sphere a bit of an advantage, as they’re both lacking in numbers as well as technology (even with the new gear that’s been released). But since both sides could certainly lose in their attempts to conquer a capital, it’s entirely possible that the season will end in a draw.

Lastly, the event also sees the addition of two new Clans: the Steel Vipers and Nova Cats. Just like in the lore, the Nova Cats fight within the Smoke Jaguar territory, and the Steel Vipers fight within the Jade Falcon territory. However, neither of the new factions have territories of their own, and any votes in war planning are done for their parent faction.

New Inner Sphere Tech

Rotary AC/5

via mwomercs.com user Sparks Murphey

Alright, alright, let’s talk about the new tech. And oh boy, there’s a lot of it.

Starting with the Inner Sphere, we’ve got a bevy of new ballistic weapons to choose from. There’s new Light and Heavy Machine Guns, Light and Heavy Gauss Rifles, LB 2, 5 and 20-X Autocannons, Ultra AC/2, 10, and 20 Autocannons, and my personal favorites, the Rotary AC/2 and AC/5.

Each of the LB and Ultra Autocannons performs about as you’d expect from firing the LB 10-X or the Ultra AC/5 (which already existed from the Clan Invasion Era) but have damage and range numbers in line with lore (if not exactly for balance purposes). The Light and Heavy Machine Guns and Gauss Rifles work the same way, with the Heavy Gauss having received some additional recoil and crosshair dancing (similar to shooting while jumping).

Rotary ACs are a brand new beast that streams out hot lead like a bullet hose. While the animation may seem satisfying, there remains some skepticism if the new Autocannon will outperform existing ballistics in terms of DPS given how often they jam and how hot they run.

  Light PPC

For energy weapons, the Inner Sphere gets the remaining ER Lasers, and the brand new Light PPC, Snub-Nose PPC, and Heavy PPC. Each of these weapons performs similarly to their existing counterparts, but with range limits (and in the case of the Snubby, range penalties to damage) one would expect from lore.

In missile land the Inner Sphere gets a bonanza, with Streak Missiles being rounded out and also with the addition of MRMs and Rocket Launchers. These last two, in particular, are proving to be devastating weapon systems in the hands of an experienced pilot who’s used to boating up dumb-fire SRMs.  

Perhaps most exciting for the Inner Sphere is the addition of new equipment. Stealth Armor, Light Ferro-Fibrous, and Light Fusion Engines will provide Inner Sphere ‘Mechs will additional toughness or sneakiness as required, and Laser AMS and Targeting Computers give Spheroids the same equipment as Clans have had for some time.

The Clans Get Something Too

  Heavy Laser

The Clans receive less gear, but what they do receive is pretty exciting. The Light and Heavy Machine Guns make their appearance again, but it’s the energy weaponry that gets most expanded. Micro ER and Pulse Lasers, and Heavy Lasers expand the Clan arsenal with never-before-seen firepower. Micro Lasers, in particular, seem a brutal addition to clan Novas which are able to potentially mount 12 of the tiny, fast firing lasers.

The Clans also receive ATMs, or Advanced Tactical Missiles, which deal more damage at close range and less damage at long range. As a cost for their flexibility, they fire fewer missiles per ton than either the Steak or regular LRMs. Rounding out the Clan arsenal are Light Active Probes, which provide fewer benefits than regular Active Probes but weigh less, Laser AMS, which provide ammo-less missile defenses at the cost of heat, and Light TAG, which is a shorter range but lighter regular TAG.

New ‘Mechs On The Way

Uziel

via mwomercs.com user Alopex

Along with new guns comes a lance of new ‘Mechs to add to your hangars. The Uziel, Cougar, Annihilator, and Mad Cat MK II are all scheduled to release later in 2017 or in early 2018, with the Uziel showing up first and Mad Cat MK II appearing last. Pre-orders are available now for these new ‘Mechs on the Civil War MWO page.

The patch also comes with an assortment of balance tweaks and bug fixes, all of which you can pour over on the MWO patch page here.

It’s an exciting new era for MechWarrior Online, so strap on your Neurohelmets and get in on the action!

A Locust Love Story

I’ll be honest, I didn’t exactly ‘get’ the whole dating simulator craze. Even when the game speaks directly to me I’d rather be spending my gaming hours in a giant robot dealing death and destruction (or a ninja, or pirate, or something similar). But dating sims? Whatever, man. That stuff is for chicks.

Then I saw the trailer for A Locust Love Story and my life will never be the same.

Born from the creative genius of MechWarriors Krivvan and Halimede, A Locust Love Story follows young Locust-chan as she attends her first day at River City High. As a transfer student just going into her second year of high school Locust is entering the prime of her combat shelf-life, but she’ll have to be careful. There are mean ‘Mechs at this school, just waiting to eat a tasty little morsel like her for breakfast!

She won’t be alone though – Locust will meet lifelong friends who will help her draw strength to overcome the many challenges that lay ahead, as well as have loads of fun along the way.

Locust and Awesome

She sure is Awesome

“We got inspired by Hatoful Boyfriend,” writes Halimede in an email interview. “Story-wise we got inspired by classical visual novel tropes and just put a MechWarrior Online spin to them.”

“The story line was to be based partially on the somewhat rocky patch and meta shift history of MWO,” Krivvan clarifies, “which I figure was probably because we were both playing in some tournaments and the first MechWarrior Online World Championship at the time.”

The entire game is built on a visual novel game engine called Ren’Py. The engine is built on the Python programming language and is relatively simple to use. It’s also the foundation for a metric ton of visual novel games, the quality of which will range from something like Locust Love Story to somewhat less reputable titles.

Griffin and Firestarter

High school can be a mean place

As for the workload, it’s a fifty/fifty split between the pair. Krivvan does most of the programming, while Halimede takes care of the visual elements. “Most of the art (besides the title screen, I would like to take credit for that) was Halimede’s thing, and she designed the characters,” says Krivvan.

“For the actual art I made up some camos to fit the Personalities – ‘Pretty Baby’ for example got the darker shades and Purple for being a bit depressing and lonely,” tells Halimede. “Then we just took pictures of ‘em in different poses, some free flight spectator shots of River City for backdrops, and an extensive photo shoot with our heroine Locust-chan for the cover.”

The intro was as simple as adding “some effects like the flower petals”, and then taking some existing sound effects and buttons from MechWarrior Online.

As for why a Locust, Krivvan isn’t quite sure. “Maybe because there was something distinctively cute and petite about Locusts?”

Locust-chan

Locust-chan

So far the game is just a trailer with what the pair have been able to finish so far, but the skeleton of a truly amazing dating sim game is there. “We originally started when both of us were still active in the MWO competitive scene and it dropped by the wayside a bit when the World Championship rolled around,” says Halimede. “In general I would love to finish it someday.”

“And there are a few surprises planned that I haven’t mentioned yet,” adds Krivvan.

I for one am on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen to Locust-chan next. Here’s hoping that Krivvan and Halimede find the time to bring this amazing ‘Mech dating sim to life.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.

MRBC Season Wrap Up!

The season has ended! And it has been a wild ride for every team in the MRBC. It’s been a bit of a while since we last checked on the MRBC, for which I blame the release of the Battletech Backer Beta for. But let’s not sit here and play the blame game for who screwed up what – instead, let’s take a look at the standings are seen how MRBC’s Season 9 shaped up.

  Eon Synergy

In Europe it was Eon Synergy that took home the crown, having pulled away from the pack in the last few weeks with commanding victories over every other team in the division, finishing the season with a reputation score of 15,450. It seems that Black Spikes Team 2 (Yellow Submarine) just couldn’t maintain the momentum they had halfway through the season, as they lost a crucial match at the end of May to Eon, losing all 5 drops. Their performance remained strong, however, leaving them with a second place finish and a score of 13,275. Rounding out in third were the White Death Mercenary Company with a reputation score of 12,650.

   

The fight in the Americas was a bit closer with Dropship 5 emerging as ultimate victors. Their last match against second place Steel Jaguar resulted in a bit of an upset, with the Jaguar’s taking the match 3 drops to 2. But the MRBC is a score-based league, and after the final tallies were made it was Dropship 5 taking the pennant with a score of 14,750. Steel Jaguar with a score of 13,350, and barely squeaking into third place were the 228th IBR “Black Watch”, a mere 275 points separated from fourth place with a final score of 12,775.

  VETO

With only 4 teams, Asia/Pacific’s Division A finals took place a month ago. Team Veto swept the remaining games in the division, taking nearly every match played 5-0 (barring matches against the 228th IBR), and securing a first place finish with a final score of 9,275 reputation points. The 228th IBR “The Wild Ones”, while beginning the season with an early lead, eventually settled into second place with a final score of 7,500 points. Third place was taken by The Cheapskate’s with a score of 4,700 points.

 

Division B Winners Rise To Division A

   

According to the MRBC rules, the winner of the Division B seasons will be bumped up to Division A starting next season, so there will be several new teams to welcome into the premier division. In Europe, Division B saw the Antares Scorpions taking home the gold, narrowly edging out the Phoenix Legion with a final score of 15,825.

  ISENGRIM

In North America, the tight four-way race eventually came down to two teams: ISENGRIM and the Blackstone Knights. The rivalry for first between the two teams soon came down to a final match, and on June 22 it was ISENGRIM that emerged victoriously. They’ll be moving on to Division A with a final Division B score of 15,325, and a league leading 373 confirmed ‘Mech kills. An outstanding performance.

 

Asia/Pacific’s Division B was a similarly tight race between the [ISRC] Innersphere Rustbuckets and Clan Crossfire. While both teams fought valiantly, it was ultimately the Innersphere Rustbuckets that achieved victory, a bare 375 points ahead of Clan Crossfire with a final score of 13,725. They’ll be moving on to face a new challenge in Division A.

Congratulations to every team that took part in the MRBC season making it the largest one yet.  The MRBC will be taking a bit of a break for now as the MechWarrior Online World Championships begin to start in the coming weeks. We’ll be sure to cover that tournament as soon as it begins.

BattleTech at E3 and What Is The “Argo”

Concept Argo art

courtesy of Harebrained Schemes

As some of you may be aware, E3 is happening, and that means the developers of BattleTech are there to show off their latest build and drop a few more hints as to what the final product will look like. And oh boy did they ever, with Harebrained Schemes revealing 2 full minutes of never-before-seen footage of the single player campaign screens.

Hosted by PC Gamer magazine, the co-founders of Harebrained Schemes Jordan Weisman and Mitch Gitelman sat down to talk with Sean “Day[9]” Plott about the upcoming game. The conversation was mostly aimed at non-BattleTech aficionados, so I won’t bore you with all the minutiae of what was said, but I’ll make sure to give you the keynotes of the presentation.

Lady Kamea Orano

courtesy of PC Gamer

First off, we were given some additional details as to how the story will unfold. Lady Kamea Orano (the spelling of which is questionable as I’m transcribing from video) has been deposed by her evil uncle and has contracted the player’s mercenary company with restoring her to her rightful throne.

The throne, in this case, being to an interstellar nation called the Aurigan Coalition, which was revealed in a Kickstarter update to be a minor house nestled between the Capellan Confederation and the Taurian Concordat. This addition to the Inner Sphere circa 3025 seems to be made entirely for the game, but considering it’s being born from Jordan Weisman himself it is likely to be made canon upon BattleTech’s release.

After the campaign overview, the interview went into detail on the inner-workings of your mercantile ship, the Argo.

Argo

Courtesy of PC Gamer

What IS The Argo?

From the video, it can be very hard to tell what kind of ship the Argo even is. During the interview, Mitch described it as “a broken-down hulk of a spaceship” along with being “your mercenary command center,” and that “you can take it all over space, going from star system to star system.” That makes it out to sound like a JumpShip, however, the Argo doesn’t resemble any JumpShip in the known universe.

It turns out the Argo isn’t a JumpShip at all, but rather a massive mobile space station that was built before the Amaris Civil War. It was intended to follow behind the first wave of system surveyors as a sort of logistical hub, supporting colonization teams with her massive onboard hydroponics bays. The intention was for the Argo to remain in-system for months, if not years, and as such it has vastly larger living quarters, recreational areas, and passenger accommodation than any military DropShip.

Inside the argo

courtesy of PC Gamer

You can tell based on the screen grabs from the development footage that the Argo does indeed have a lot of room, with massive navigation and bridge stations. There’s also a folding grav deck that allows for artificial gravity, although anywhere else people are still forced to wear mag-boots to keep from floating off.

But it doesn’t have a jump drive, so it’s forced to piggyback on JumpShips like any other dropship. Well, not quite like any other dropship; much like the Behemoth-class, it takes up two docking bays of whatever ship it latches on to. Also, like the Behemoth, she can’t fly into atmosphere owing to her vast size. Smaller DropShips dock with the Argo in order to bring men and machines planetside.

Inside the argo

courtesy of PC Gamer

As an aside, it’s nice that HBS wants to expand the BattleTech universe and make the player feel like they have something unique in the BattleTech game, but it really doesn’t feel like the Argo was even necessary. The story could have been told just as easily with a mercenary band somehow getting hold of a JumpShip, or even just a regular Union DropShip. And considering the Argo can’t even go planetside, your mercenary company will also need a real DropShip or two just to get boots on the ground.

Oh well. I doubt anyone will complain about having a luxury liner for a DropShip, at least in comparison to what most House militaries field.

Salvage Details And Some Memorable Quotes

After a peak inside the Argo, viewers were treated to another demonstration of combat with BattleTech, which didn’t seem to offer much more than what is already available in the backer beta. We did get some information on the salvage system, which will be based on BattleMech damage and that MechCommanders will want to hit opponents “just hard enough to take them down”.

Inside the argo

courtesy of PC Gamer

We also got some pretty excellent one liners. After showing a Hunchback getting cored in the back, Gitelman commented, “Get around the back of a BattleMech and slap penetrate.” Wiser words were never spoken.  

Also, after Day[9] reminisced on playing the original table top as a child, Mitch responded, “As a kid, huh? Thanks, pal.” Day[9] will be 31 later in June.

No word yet on a final release date, but it’s looking closer than ever. I’d even bet on seeing BattleTech release just in time for Christmas.

And as always, MechWarriors: Stay Syrupy.